So I was rejected from Oxford.
There were tears.
Lots of them.
But I’m okay. It’s okay.
Putting so much onto something and having it return to you fruitless is an easy way to make anyone feel disillusioned, disconnected and fearful of what life looks like beyond the construction of reality that you were so sure would make everything click into place. I think I’ve always tried to grapple with the idea of achieving ‘perfection’ to some degree or other; I’ve always tried to find that one thing that would propel me forward, upward, beyond a reality I sometimes find difficult to navigate. Being in a school system that always praises you for academic excellence and that, in turn, hails Oxford or Cambridge as the unquestionable next step for you; being surrounded by people who, out of the good of their heart, tell you that it’s a certainty, that you will get it; being prone to self-deprecation and searching for validation in some form, proof that you are somehow what people say since at times it’s all so unfathomable to you. It’s easy to channel all of that anxiety into a concrete goal and romanticise it to such an extent that, by the time the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ arrives, you aren’t even sure what it is you’re actually aiming for.
Upon reflection, that’s what I’ve been trying to make sense of. Sure, it’s only been one day, but I feel like within that time I’ve come face to face with so many truths about myself, where I’m going and how I’ll get there. I’ve realised, with a reluctancy that I’m sure will reside for quite a while to come, that there isn’t just one path to success, contentment, happiness, fulfilment. I’ve been given no choice but to recognise that my fairly fragile mental health has made me overcompensate, searching for a solution to emotional overwhelm somewhere far beyond me and failing to realise that if anywhere, I should be looking deep within me. Did I really want Oxford, or did I want the feeling it hypothetically gave me? I don’t think I’ll ever know the answer to that because I’ll never live the experience to find out if the place was for me after all. And that’s okay. I’m going somewhere else that will lead me down paths never before acknowledged. I have faith that the universe is gently leading me towards a place that will bring me organic light and that will fertilise my dreams in a way that the place I thought would, might not. There is a strange comfort to be found in knowing that I am still the same person wherever I go.
The world is so big and it scares me. I was searching for a place in it. I still am. I always will be. I don’t think I’m someone who will ever feel ‘at home’ anywhere and while that restless energy may, in times like this, deflate me, I’m sure at times it will fuel a creative fire that will result in majesty. I’m 18 and there is so much to come. There is so much out there, and yes, that terrifies me, but I know that it also provides a bittersweet comfort. Or it will do.
Talking about the experience with friends I’ve made through the process has allowed me to put all of this into perspective and recognise where priorities should lie. I’ve become close with people I never would have otherwise met and bonded with. I’ve had a long, cathartic conversation with my friend Eleanor (@eleanorclaudie) about doing things for my own sake and enjoyment rather than because I think it will allow me to reach a certain goal (in this case, A*s and Oxford - definitely will still be working towards the former in spite of this outcome, for myself and myself alone). I’ve explored my own thresholds and I’ve proven to myself that I have resilience and that I can dedicate myself to something that is not a certainty. I have drive, and that is a transferable skill.
So for now, I’m focusing on things beyond the Oxford dream, coming to terms with the possible unhealthiness of it in forced retrospect. I’m going to make 2019 my best year yet as much of a cliche as that is. I’m going to read books that enrich me emotionally, watch more films, write more, travel with new friends, seek spiritual resolution. None of those things require an Oxford offer.
I have been given a key that will someday grant me access to the wonderland I’ve been trying to manifest. Or perhaps I’ve always had the key, and it’s about finding the right door.
I've compiled a playlist for this if you're interested in listening.